Review: Damaged by Muhammad Ali Samejo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I first found Damaged by trawling through social media (Instagram, to be specific). Unsurprisingly, I was drawn in by the cover—for the umpteenth time, I am, in fact, a magpie. I went in blind to this book, really only drawn in by the desire to support another indie author and the fact that the book seemed to fit my aesthetic (hello, my name is Ivy, being goth wasn’t a phase, mom!).

Damaged is an anthology that showcases “random conversations between (random) pairs of people in random places faced with random situations that are otherwise uncomfortable and unsettling.” As someone who went into this book blind, I can safely say that Muhammad Ali Samejo’s description was apt. 

Before we continue, I would like to start by saying that there are some triggers in this book. In my research, I couldn’t find any readily available on the book listing on Amazon or Goodreads. Please exercise caution if you’d like to read this book. Take care of yourself.

I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a rocky start for me. The opening story was difficult for me to digest due to its content (references to sexual assault). I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to finish or that I would even want to. At the time, I was in a good place emotionally, though I would have appreciated a heads up beyond the nebulous hand wave of “difficult conversations.” I wrote extensively about trigger warnings in this blog, so if you’d like to know more about my thoughts, please check it out.

Muhammad Ali Sarenjo seemed to focus a lot on a woman’s perspective throughout the entirety of Damaged. Being a Pakistani author, there were plenty of cultural differences (from myself as an American) to be observed. It was insightful to see our similarities and differences played out in the text. Further, I appreciated how raw these conversations were, even if they were, at times, fantastical (some even being set in sci-fi/fantasy-like scenarios). 

The writing was clean and easily read, and the stories were short enough to hold interest but just long enough to paint a fulsome picture. I would definitely recommend Damaged to those who enjoy darker, thought-provoking anthologies.

Damaged will definitely make you think. And, at times, make you queasy. Well done! 

You can find Muhammad Ali Sarenjo: Instagram and Goodreads.

For those of you reading, I would love to know if trigger warnings change whether you read a book or not! Sound off in the comments below!

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